Read the basics about this subject
When health care professionals treat patients for a particular
illness or condition, they usually follow practice guidelines that
are put together by committees of physicians, nurses, occupational
and physical therapists, researchers and other people who are
experienced and knowledgeable about the subject. This certainly
applies to treating pressure ulcers (which means the same
thing as "pressure sores" or "bedsores"). There are many treatment
choices for each condition. In providing the best care to people
with spinal cord injuries who develop pressure ulcers, the physician
choose a treatment that applies properly to their patients. Listed
below are some common procedures for pressure ulcers at various stages,
locations and/or sizes; each of these were experienced by at least
one of the people who took part in our study. Remember, these are
just examples; your doctor will help you determine the treatment that
is right for you.
||Symptoms At This Stage
||Treatments Usually Recommended, Depending on Individual Case 1 2
||Study Participants Who Had This Treatment
||Redness (on darker skin, purpleness); swelling; warmth
Doctor: examine wound to confirm condition; reassess every 2 to 4
weeks, especially if wound is not healing.
Home care: keep pressure off area (usually bedrest, use of cushions),
good nutrition, and keep skin clean.
||Some opening in skin, but not very deep; looks like a scrape,
blister, "zit" or crater
Doctor: same as above, plus
clean with medicated solution; giving or prescribing medications and
antibiotic ointment or cream; give home care instructions.
Home care: change dressing per instructions; good nutrition; use
prescribed medications and/or antibiotic cream; keep pressure off
wound (usually bedrest).
||Skin broken, with damage down to underlying layer of tissue
Doctor: same as above, plus possibility of skin graft, electrical
stimulation to promote wound healing and/or hospitalization.
Home care: after hospitalization, continue medications, keeping
pressure off wound and regular doctor's appointments until doctor
confirms it is completely healed.
||Skin open, with tissue damaged down to muscle, bone or tendon
Doctor: same as above, plus skin graft, muscle flap surgery, or other
surgical procedure; hospitalization, usually followed by
rehabilitation and/or discharge to nursing home.
Home care: after hospital and rehabilitation, continue medications,
keeping pressure off wound and regular doctor's appointments until
doctor confirms it is completely healed.
If your doctor recommends a procedure that you are unfamiliar with,
it's a good idea to ask for a clear explanation of what is involved.
You may even want to consult with another doctor, especially if there
is someone who is very familiar with your case, or do some research
for yourself. If you use the Internet, a helpful website that lists
many of the standard and alternative medical treatments for pressure
ulcers, along with illustrations of pressure ulcers and links to more
Internet sites that may help you, is an excellent ad-free site
maintained by the
University Health Care System,
in Augusta, Georgia. The information on that website is provided by
Healthwise, which also supplies information to
a website run by the publicly-traded company WebMD Corporation, that
displays ads along with health information.
If you are looking for a new medical professional or a new
rehabilitation center to go to, try this useful web page about
Finding a Rehab.
It lists questions to ask yourself - or the health care providers -
when you are checking out alternatives. (This website is maintained
by a person who has a spinal cord injury himself.)
Another good guide is
Changing or Choosing Your Doctor,
an article on the website maintained by Craig Hospital, a rehabilitation
facility in Denver, Colorado.
Finding a Rehab
Changing or Choosing Your Doctor
The growing problem of
pressure ulcers: Evaluation and management for an aging population.
prevention and treatment following spinal cord injury: A clinical
practice guideline for health-care professionals.
Washington, DC: Paralyzed Veterans of America.